If you’re familiar with the action camera market, you’ve probably heard of Insta360, the popular maker of action and 360-degree cameras. Although not well known in India as GoPro, the company is now hoping to change it as it has an official presence in the country. Today we will test Insta360 Go 2, the second generation model of the company’s smallest action camera.
The size reminds me a lot of the now-closed GoPro Hero Session series of small action cameras. However, Go 2 has some unique capabilities that make it rather special. It claims to be the smallest action camera in the world and it does not come cheap. At Rs 34,999 in India, it costs more than a GoPro Hero8 Black and is about the same as a Hero9 Black. Is this a viable option? Find out.
Insta360 Go 2 design
The Insta360 Go 2 has a small, pill-shaped body the size of an AA battery. It is only available in white, which, in my opinion, is not a great choice considering its purposeful use. It weighs only 26.5g and the plastic body feels stiff. There is a single LED indicator just below the lens and there is a contact pin on the back for charging, when you dock it in the case. The front panel, just below the LED, acts as a button to start and stop recording. I’m not a big fan of how it works, but we’ll get to that later. The lens cover is easily replaceable, if your existing one gets scratched or cracked while using.
The charging case of the Insta360 Go 2 is just as important as the camera. For starters, this is the only way to charge the camera. The case is like an AirPods Pro charging case and has a USB Type-C port, a standard tripod mount and two collapsible feet that allow you to use it vertically for shooting. Inside, there’s a hole in the top half for the camera, with a backlit monochrome display and two recessed buttons in the bottom half.
The display lets you cycle between different shooting modes, showing you the condition of the case and camera battery. The case even has Bluetooth so it can be used to remotely control the camera. The build quality of the case with the hinge is very good, but again I wish the color would be anything other than white.
You get a bunch of nifty accessories in the box. Magnetic pendant accessory, well, is meant to be worn as a pendant, and the camera can mount it directly. There is a clip mount that can be attached to a bandana or a cap and a pivot stand that can be mounted on metal surfaces using magnets. Insta360 also sells a mount adapter bundle that includes a mount for GoPro accessories.
Insta360 Go 2 Features and Apps
Insta360 Go 2 boasts moderate video recording capabilities. The 1 / 2.3-inch sensor can shoot up to 1440p (2560×1440) at 50fps, which isn’t bad, but I’d prefer the option to record 4K video, especially considering that the GoPro Hero5 session supported it in 2016. Supported video modes are also basic. You will find Standard, Provideo, HDR, Timelapse, Timeshift and Slow Motion. The same goes for photo mode, which includes Standard, Interval, Starlaps and Night Shot. Oddly enough, photos can be saved as either INSP or DNG, but not JPEG. To share, you need to export the captured photo using the camera’s mobile or desktop app.
Insta360 Go 2 supports Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi. Unlike a GoPro camera, you get 32GB of built-in memory which is nice, but it’s not too much and there’s no microSD card slot so there’s no room for expansion. The Go 2 is also IPX8 waterproof for 4m underwater use. However, it is only the camera that is waterproof and not the case.
Insta360 Go 2 has a feature called Flowstate Stabilization (similar to GoPro’s Hypersmouth) which is available in Provideo and Time Shift mode. You have the option to view different areas like UltraWide, ActionView, Linear and Narrow. These options can still be manipulated after the video is shot through the app, which you can’t do with GoPro.
The Insta360 app for iOS and Android lets you remotely control the camera, update its firmware, and offload videos and photos to your phone from it. It even lets you edit videos and photos fairly before exporting
Insta360 Go 2 Performance and Battery Life
One of the main reasons to consider Insta360 Go 2 over a GoPro is the versatility and flexibility it provides when mounting. The camera itself has a magnetic back so you can stick it directly to any metal surface without having to worry about mounting. That being said, the camera’s magnets should have been stronger because if there was a strong vibration or intense activity it could easily fall off a surface (which, for an action camera, should be expected). Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. The charging case can be used to remotely wake up the camera and start recording, which was very convenient when I didn’t have my phone.
The video recorded in daylight was quite good. I usually get stuck in Provideo mode because it offers features like best stability and horizon leveling. Video quality was comparable to that of a GoPro Hero8 Black, but during intense running activity, Insta360’s flosset stabilization did not keep pace with GoPro’s hyper-smooth stability. Timelapse videos can also be shot at 1440p and the quality was pretty good. HDR videos don’t seem to offer any significant benefits compared to standard videos, so I didn’t use this option too much. Slow motion videos also looked good, but they were limited to 1080p at 120fps.
Depending on how you process them, photos can still look great The app offers two useful post-processing presets called PureShot and Color Plus. The former is convenient if you want to shade immediately for better visibility, but it blows away some of the highlights. Color Plus creates more dramatic-looking shots by bumping into contrast and highlights. The videos and photos taken at night look grainy and the description was poor I noticed that applying pure shot filters to standard low-light photos creates a clearer image than using night shots. When exporting video, there is a ‘remove grain’ option, which helps clear the sound, but takes longer to export.
The battery life of Insta360 Go 2 is much more desirable. Although statistics show an improvement over the first model, the Go 2 can still record up to 30 minutes of video at 1440p in standard mode before the battery runs out. In fact, in my experience it usually lasts less than 30 minutes because it stops recording the moment the battery level drops to 10 percent. You can’t even shoot stills when the battery indicator is red, forcing you to recharge the camera. When shooting 1440p video in Provideo mode, the clip length is limited to 10 minutes and will reduce each battery level by 30 percent. The case should be able to top the camera twice, if you do not use it as a remote control.
As much as I like the size of the Insta360 Go 2 and its versatility, there are a lot of things that I hope the company would have done differently to make the experience better. Starting with the camera, it should have had a simple record button instead of working as a part of the whole frame, as it would have prevented the numerous accidental presses I had to deal with. Then there is the LED indicator, which, for some strange reason, turns white when the camera is recording, which, in contrast to a white body, can be difficult to see during the day. If the battery is low it turns red, so why not use this universally recognized color for recording?
The camera also gets very hot after a few minutes of shooting. This is somewhat normal for most action cameras, but with Go 2, it crashes and corrupts the recorded file randomly in my experience. This makes it somewhat incredible when the weather is not very favorable. I also found the shooting modes for 2021 to be a bit basic – even missing things like a burst mode for photos.
The charging case, as simple as it is, can also use some design tweaks. It should also ideally have some amount of water and dust insulation, as its lack currently limits where you can use it, such as on a beach or in a pool. Due to the poor battery life of the camera, it will carry cases around you wherever you go, so weatherproofing would be good. I hope the top half of the case could swing 180 degrees, making it easier to shoot and monitor the display at the same time. It’s also somewhat sleek when charging – it doesn’t charge if the Type-C to Type-C cable is directly connected to the MacBook Air (M1) or to a high-watt USB Type-C PD charger. . Insta360 recommends using a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, such as a bundle, and a 10W power adapter to charge the case.
The concept of Insta360 Go 2 has a lot of potential, but it requires a lot more polish to make it work. There is definitely a place in the market for this kind of miniature action camera and the potential for creativity with this kind of equipment is virtually limitless. However, in order to improve the market for such cameras, especially in India, the price has to be more attractive. Rupee 34,999 is very expensive for what Insta360 Go 2 offers, and although you can find it a little less online, it still costs more than the GoPro Hero8 Black.
Pricing aside, there is a long list of changes that I hope to see in later versions of this camera. I want a display on the camera to show what mode I’m in, and more functional shutter buttons and status indicators. After that, I would happily take up the removable storage on the built-in 32GB, if that means a lower price. Finally, I want a longer recording duration, a 4K option, better battery life and a weatherproof case.
Overall, the Insta360 Go 2 is a fun little action camera that offers plenty of mounting flexibility, decent video performance, and useful accessories in the box. However, if you do not take advantage of the small size of your use, it is better to buy a GoPro Hero8 Black, even Hero9 Black at a lower price, because they are more feature rich and reliable.